Exercise after weight loss surgery helps the fight against type 2 diabetes

by Barbara Hewitt on December 5, 2014

People who undertake even moderate exercise after weight loss surgery see added health improvements that reduce the metabolic risk of type 2 diabetes, a new study has found.

The findings confirm the physiological and potential clinical benefits of adding an exercise regime following weight loss surgery compared to patients who lead a sedentary lifestyle after surgery.

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The findings confirm the physiological and potential clinical benefits of adding an exercise regime

A team at the Sandford-Burnham Translational Research Institute for Metabolism and Diabetes in Florida, US, has carries out the first randomised, controlled clinical study that examines the effects of exercise on insulin sensitivity and other cardio and metabolic risk factors following bariatric surgery.

‘The data support the inclusion of an exercise programme following bariatric surgery to further enhance the health of individuals who opt for surgery to lose weight,’ said Professor Bret Goodpaster.

The study, published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, examined two groups of patients that had recently undergone RYGB bariatric surgery. The first group participated in an education programme after surgery and the second group took part in the education programme plus an exercise programme after surgery.

The education programme consisted of six sessions per month and included lectures, discussions, and demonstrations providing up to date information on topics such as medication use, nutrition, and upper body stretching. The exercise group performed 120 minutes per week of exercise.

A total of 119 people completed the 24 week study and it found that compared to the education group, the exercise group showed significant improvement in insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism.

Low insulin sensitivity and poor glucose metabolism can cause type 2 diabetes, and are associated with the risk of developing the disease. Both are common in pre-diabetes, a condition that means your blood sugar level is higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes.

The exercise group also showed significantly improved cardiorespiratory fitness, a reference to the ability of the circulatory and respiratory system to supply oxygen to muscles during exercise. Cardiovascular fitness reduces the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, lung cancer, and stroke, and is an effective predictor of future mortality.

Although both groups lost weight, approximately 50 lbs, as a result of the surgery, there were no differences in the total amount of weight loss between the two groups.

‘Importantly, our study showed that aerobic exercise is feasible in this population, a result that directly counters the perception that severely obese individuals cannot respond to lifestyle interventions,’ said Goodpaster.

‘Moreover, we have identified specific, non-weight related health benefits that exercise confers on these individuals. We look forward to additional studies to determine the optimal amount and type of exercise that produces the best physiological results,’ he added.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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